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‘Hague had a very controversial record on anything from Ukraine to Syria’

Afshin Rattansi is a journalist, author of “The Dream of the Decade – the London Novels” and an RT Contributor. He can be reached at afshinrattansi@hotmail.com.

Published time: July 15, 2014 01:21
British Foreign Secretary William Hague (Reuters / Jim Bourg)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague's sudden resignation came as a complete surprise, RT contributor Afshin Rattansi said, adding that he hopes UK foreign policy will now take a turn for the better, by avoiding Hague's warmongering approach.

READ MORE: Hague steps down as UK foreign secretary

RT: This resignation really came as a surprise to many in Westminster. Why do you think he did it now?

Afshin Rattansi: That is certainly the question that everybody is going to be asking, because nothing in the 'Westminster Village,' as it's called, gave anyone any hint that this was going to happen. Already there are speculations as to why on earth he is going, of course, and could it be foreign policy issues that he was involved in? Could it be with the election strategy of the Cameron government? He certainly had a very controversial record when it came to anything from Ukraine to Syria.

RT: This is part of a major government reshuffle. What do you think these changes will ultimately do for the UK?

AR: Well, I think some people are really looking to see if foreign policy is not going to be so war-like. We must remember that William Hague was found to be lying to parliament about the Ukrainian constitution, [there are] strings of statements he has been making about Russia creating a new Cold War. He of course said that Britain must bomb Damascus at all costs.

Phil Hammond on the other hand, he has been a defense secretary, a controversial defense secretary, because they are cutting the troops here while increasing ideas about more nuclear weapons. He is a former World Bank consultant.

RT: So he apparently is the next man for the job. What kind of foreign policy changes are we likely to see?

AR: We have no firm confirmation of course about the full reshuffle over here. So all these [are] rumors, as it were, leaking out, although William Hague has tweeted that he is going to become the leader of the House.

It is difficult to speculate perhaps about the immediate change in foreign policy. It is notable that William Hague did divorce himself from the US State Department in calling for the immediate ceasefire in the current ongoing disaster unfolding in Gaza. As you have been reporting, now the death toll is approaching 200. I'm not sure if his friends in the State Department liked that much.

So I would presume that Philip Hammond would be less able to be perceived as not as pro-Israelist as William Hague is, trying to divorce himself a little from the State Department line.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Whitehall, London (Image from wikipedia.org)

RT: Another big issue we've been hearing about is the UK emergency data retention law which is being met with major criticism. Is there any link to Hague's resignation there?

AR: Too early to tell on that one; because it has wide support, the emergency legislation [is] currently going through the Houses of Parliament. It will be in the House of Lords this week. It is emergency legislation backed by all three major parties so that the government can hold records of every person in Britain’s incoming and outgoing phone calls. That is passing through parliament with all major parties' support. So there won't be any change with William Hague going or the justice minister here, or Kenneth Clarke is also being moved. Of course people are going to be wondering whether it is Phil Hammond who is taking that position, because there are also rumors that Hammond – who was tipped to be the next NATO secretary – and General Liam Fox, a former defense secretary who had to resign over a scandal, may be coming into the cabinet as well.

RT: What is Hague's legacy as a foreign secretary?

AR: I think crucially this is a man, unlike Robin Cook who of course resigned over the Iraq war, he is not resigning over the Iraq war. If anything, he wanted Britain again to go back straight into the Middle East and start bombing a Middle Eastern country – Syria.

And the other legacy of course is the deteriorating relations between London and Moscow because he was very hawkish on Ukraine and very keen to support NATO's line that all the problems of Ukraine are the fault of Russia.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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